White Gift Tradition
One of my favorite traditions while I was a student at Hollins University was the White Gift Service. It was a worship service held in the University’s beautiful duPont chapel on one of the first Sundays in December. As a member of the Hollins Chapel Choir, we prepared beautiful Advent and Christmas music for this occasion each year. The service also included scripture, appropriate readings, candle lighting, bells from the carillon, stories, dance, and instrumental music from the large pipe organ, and solo performances from the music staff. Many people in the Hollins community remarked that it wasn’t until after this service that it really felt like Christmas.
The tradition of the White Gift began in a Methodist church in the early part of the 20th century. It is based on an old Chinese legend where people brought gifts to the king for his birthday. Everyone wrapped their gifts in plain white paper. Then the gifts could not be distinguished by who they came from. It didn’t matter if you came from a poor family or one of great wealth…your gift was given the same value by being wrapped in all white. A minister’s wife from Ohio borrowed the tradition and encouraged folks in her church to bring gifts wrapped in white paper to give to people in their community that were in need.
At a school where participation in Chapel was not necessarily encouraged or required, this was one of the most well-attended services of the year. There was an offering collected for a local agency that helped those in need. However, the image that stands out even more was a crowded chapel where we all came together…students and faculty of many nations, races, cultures, faith traditions, and backgrounds came together as a community to gather and pause. The community came together as a family. During this service we were all one and brought the same gift-ourselves. God’s presence was represented when we all came together and shared music and stories of the season. In a season of dark and cold, this was a service of light and warmth.
Take time to pause.
- What are your favorite holiday traditions?
- What are your favorite family memories over the holidays?
- Is there a particular family tradition or practice that reminds you that God is with us?
- How does God speak to you through holiday practices?
If you have not already picked up a copy of the Advent Study Guide for your family, they are available at the church, just outside the sanctuary.
This Week at Hood
Wednesday, December 6th, 3:30pm–Prayer & Inspiration
6:00 pm – Choir practice!
Thursday, December 7th, 1:00-3:00pm–Jason at the Cellar for Community Office hours (108 N. Wilson Ave.)
Saturday, December 9th–Lake & Lights: meet in the church parking @ 3:00pm to carpool to the Lashmits’ Lakehouse for a early chili dinner. We will leave the lakehouse @ 5:30pm to go over to Lu Mil Vineyard and explore their large light display. The cost for the lights is ($6 a person).
Sunday, December 10th, 11:00 am – Worship: God With Us.
12:oo noon–Choir lunch & rehearsal
December 17th–11:00am–Choir’s Musical presentation: God With Us; followed by church-wide Christmas lunch and visit from Saint Nicholas!
December 24th–11:00am–worship; 5:00pm–Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion
December 26, 2018
December 17, 2018
December 11, 2018